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50 Facts About Montana You Probably Didn’t Know

by Bozeman Broker Group

From dinosaurs to giant snowflakes, here are 50 facts about Montana that'll make you want to get to Big Sky Country ASAP

By: Amanda Orcutt


1. Fort Keogh holds the record for the largest snowflake ever observed, which was an astounding 15 inches in diameter.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Benimoto

2. In Fort Benton, a cowboy once insisted on riding his horse to his room in the Grand Union Hotel. The manager objected, so the two exchanged gunfire. The Horseman was killed and, later, fourteen .44 slugs were found in his body.

3. The Montana Yogo Sapphire is the only gem from North America that’s included in the Crown Jewels of England.

4. There are more cattle in Montana than there are people.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Theglobalpanorama

5. On Highway 59, south of Miles City, Harry Landers has topped almost 1 mile of his fence posts with over 300 boots.

6. Popular American daredevil Evel Knievel was from Montana.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Lisa Brewster

7. The O’Fallon Museum in Baker boasts the largest steer in world, Steer Montana. He grew to be nearly six feet tall and weighed 3,980 pounds.

8. In Montana, you can use the word “ditch” to order a drink. The phrase means “with water.” I.e. a “whiskey ditch” is a “whiskey and water.”

9. Successful animator and producer Brad Bird, who worked on well-known projects like “Rugrats,” “The Simpsons,” and Disney’s “The Incredibles” was born in Kalispell.

10. Montana was the site of the first placement of a Gideon bible in a hotel room.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Peter Gene

11. According to chlorofluorocarbon dating, the water at Giant Springs takes 26 years to travel underground before returning to the surface.

12. Montana is home to the largest migratory elk herd in the nation.

13. The first luge run in North America was built at Lolo Hot Springs in 1965.

14. Scot Schmidt, the first professional extreme skier, was born in Helena.

15. Travelers Rest in Lolo was a stopping point on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It’s the only site on the Lewis and Clark Trail that has physical proof of the explorers’ presence.

16. Montana holds the record for the most dramatic temperature change to occur over a 24-hour period. In 1972 in Loma, the temperature rose from -54˚F to 49˚F.

17. The Museum of the Rockies has one of the largest collections of dinosaur fossils on Earth. It’s also home to 13 T-Rex specimens, more than anywhere else in the world.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Tim Evanson

18. Montana is the only state in the US with a triple divide, which allows water to flow into the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and the Hudson Bay.

19. Although Montana is now home to over 8,000 moose, the animal was once thought to be extinct in the Rockies south of Canada.

20. Infamous sheriff and outlaw Henry Plummer constructed the first jail in Montana.

21. In 1888, more millionaires per capita were living in Helena than any other city in the world. Most made their fortunes off of gold.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Carsten Schertzer

22. Jordan is one of the most isolated county seats in the country. The town is 175 miles from the nearest airport, 85 miles from the nearest bus line and 115 miles from the nearest train.

23. A portion of Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the country, is in Montana. The park has 1000-3000 earthquakes each year and is home to one of the Earth’s few super volcanos.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user David Ooms

24. Montana is the 4th largest state in the US, by area. You can fit Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York within its borders and still have room for the District of Columbia.

25. Despite its large size, Montana is only the 44th most populated state in the nation.

26. Great Falls is the largest waterfall on the Missouri River.

27. Montana has the largest grizzly bear population of all the lower 48 states.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Sharon Mollerus

28. Not surprisingly, Montana has also named the grizzly bear their state animal.

29. The name of Montana’s largest state park, Makoshika, meant “bad earth” or “bad land” to Sioux Indians. But, despite its name, it’s a paradise for geologists. The park has over 11,000 acres of layered rock formations that include fossil remains of dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Capture the Uncapturable

30. Miles City is known as the Cow Capital of the West, where cowboy traditions live on through events like the annual Bucking Horse Sale.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Emil Kepko

31. At 12,807 feet, Granite Peak is the highest natural point in Montana.

32. Wild buffalo can still be viewed at the National Bison Range, just north of Missoula.

33. Glacier National Park has 250 lakes within its boundaries.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Loco Steve

34. Fort Peck Dam is the largest earth-filled dam in the world

35. The Rocky Mountain Front Eagle Migration Area is one of the best places to view golden eagles in the country. More golden eagles have been seen in a single day than anywhere else in the US.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr use USFWS Mountain-Prairie

36. Montana’s name comes from the Spanish word for “mountain”.

37. The first territorial capital of Montana, Bannack, is still preserved as a ghost town.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Skakerman

38. Out of the 56 counties in Montana, 46 are considered “frontier counties,” with average populations of 6 people or less per square mile.

39. Beaver Creek Park in Hill County is the largest county park in the US.

40. Famous western artist Charles M “Charlie” Russell called Montana home.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Smithsonian Institution

41. Montana’s state motto is “oro y plata” which means “gold and silver” in Spanish.

42. The Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park is considered one of most scenic drives in the country.

43. Due to its ample mining history, Butte is known as the “richest hill on earth”.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Woodleywonderworks

44. It’s possible to see up to about 1,700 nesting pelicans at the Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge.

45. The Battle of the Little Bighorn, often referred to as Custer’s Last Stand, took place near the Little Big Horn River in Montana Territory. It was the most prominent action of the Great Sioux War of 1876.

46. The Yellowstone River, the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states, runs through Montana.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Dave_mcmt

47. The town of Ekalaka was named after the daughter of famous Sioux chief, Sitting Bull.

48. There are eight different federally recognized Native American tribes living in Montana.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Woody H1

49. Montana has not just one but two state gemstones: sapphire and agate.

50. At 585 feet high, the smokestack in Anaconda is one of the world’s tallest free-standing brick structures.

Housing in Bozeman

by Bozeman Broker Group

Rising land costs among factors driving the price of Bozeman-area housing

From the How Will We Grow? series

Editor’s Note

This is an installment in an ongoing Chronicle series looking to explore the issues facing the Gallatin Valley as we grapple with the opportunities and consequences of growth and the development it brings.

As always, we welcome feedback and suggestions from our readers. Managing Editor Nick Ehli can be reached at or 582-2647, and reporter Eric Dietrich at or 582-2628.

Why, exactly, is it so darn hard to find an affordable home in Bozeman? There’s no single answer, certainly, but a key part of the puzzle is that the price of land is, well, too high.

As the area’s housing market has recovered from the Great Recession — pushing median home prices to record highs — the cost of infrastructure-equipped land suitable for building has risen accordingly, with a median lot going for $84,500 last year, according to numbers from the Gallatin Association of Realtors.

For builders aiming to hit the $192,000 housing price point the city considers affordable for buyers making $66,780 a year, an $84,000 lot means 43 percent of the target price is sunk into acreage. That puts a significant cramp on the remainder of the project budget, especially at a time when construction labor costs are also high.

While Bozeman-area land prices, unlike finished homes, still haven’t surpassed their housing bubble-era peak, they’ve risen substantially in recent years. According to GAR, the median price of lots in Gallatin County increased $35,486, or 72 percent between 2012 and 2015.

“We have more buyer demand than we can produce inventory.”
- Robyn Erlenbush, ERA Landmark Real Estate

What’s behind the rise? Much of it, real estate observers say, comes down to basic economics — even as the housing market has rebounded in force, the number of new lots being created in Bozeman-area subdivisions has stayed comparatively modest relative to the pre-recession boom.

While a whopping 1,730 lots received final plat approval from either Bozeman or Gallatin County back in 2006 — a number that dipped as low as 20 a year at the depth of the recession — annual production in 2015 was 690.

In comparison, the city issued 793 residential building permits and the county granted 432 land use permits last year.

“The inventory is looking really tight,” said Brian Popiel, chair of the Southwest Montana Building Industry Association. “There’s not much out there.”

Trends in building lot production and real estate price trends for the Bozeman area. Data from the Gallatin Association of Realtors and Bozeman and Gallatin County planning departments. Subdivision lot production numbers exclude Belgrade, where data wasn’t readily available.

Popiel said he estimates the city is currently adding only a quarter of a home lot per new resident, compared to half a lot in the 2000s and nearly a full lot per new arrival back in the ’90s.

According to Robyn Erlenbush with ERA Landmark Real Estate, the number of building lots on the market in Bozeman is down 25 percent over this time last year, with 92 currently available.

In comparison, she said, there are 309 building lots and acreages available in rural Bozeman outside city limits, with sales up 62 percent in the last year, and another 73 on the market in Belgrade.

For the time being, at least, Erlenbush said she thinks the primary bottleneck in the real estate industry is how fast Bozeman’s building industry, mostly composed of smaller builders, can bring houses to market.

“We have more buyer demand than we can produce inventory,” she said.

Looking further ahead, though, both Popiel and Erlenbush said it’s unclear that there are enough subdivisions in the development pipeline to supply the rapidly growing city with home sites proportionate with population growth in the coming years — a supply constraint that could push lot prices up even higher.

“Developers are still very, very cautious,” said city planning director Wendy Thomas, noting that developers — many burnt in the 2008 housing crash — are tending to plat subdivisions in smaller phases instead of charging ahead with larger developments.

“Developers aren’t extending themselves out there as far as they maybe were prior to the recession,” echoed Sean O’Callaghan, Gallatin County’s planning director. “I think there’s a different business model.”

Part of the issue, several planners and building professionals said, is that it’s often harder to secure financing for large development projects in the post-Great Recession world. The cost of infrastructure like streets, water supply and sewer service is also a constraint to some extent, they said.

Thomas, for example, noted the city is currently working on projects to expand sewer capacity to make more development possible south of the Montana State University campus and on the city’s western fringe.

“We have some pipes that are full, or close to full,” she said.

Additionally, Popiel pointed out, some well-financed Bozeman developers like Andy Holloran of HomeBase Montana, behind the 5 West mixed-use building rising on Mendenhall Street, seem to be focusing their time and money on redevelopment projects in downtown instead of more traditional subdivisions.

Thomas also said that single-family homes may not be the right housing option for many Bozeman residents, particularly given the youth and relative transience of the city’s population. Developers are creating a fair number of apartments and condos, she noted, saying she thinks the city is probably keeping up with demand on that front.

As for options available to consumers dead set on finding affordable land?

According to Erlenbush, there are still lots in Gallatin County available in the $30,000 range — out north of Three Forks past Wheat Montana, a third of the way to Helena.

“It’s a supply and demand situation,” she said.

How to Remodel the Laundry Room

by Bozeman Broker Group

Use this step-by-step guide to figure out what you want and how to make it happen.

By Mitchell Parker March 14, 2016

“What’s funny about laundry rooms is that we’re in them a lot, yet we approach these spaces as an afterthought,” designer AJ Margulis says.

It’s true. There’s no standard laundry room size, shape or layout. Often these utility spaces are created in awkward leftover areas after every other room in the home has been planned out. Or they’re banished to dark corners of basements and garages. And yet you’ve probably noticed you’re spending a lot of time in that confined area. Shouldn’t that space warrant extra attention?

This step-by-step workbook will help you think through your options and plan some ways to
make your laundry room function better and look nicer.

Step 5: Construction Documents, Estimates, Demo, Installation and More

At this stage, the process for remodeling or making over a laundry room is similar to any other renovation project. You’ll be perusing floor plans, elevations and other relevant drawings. You’ll iron out the finer details and get a grip on what permits need to be pulled.

If you’re working with a designer, he or she will probably help you interview contractors and get estimates on the cost of your project. Once you have that settled, you’ll begin preparing for installation by making sure you have all the materials on hand, as well as getting your space ready for demolition.

Make sure you save all receipts, construction documents, warranties and product information so you can properly maintain and care for your appliances and other features.

After your project is finished, walk through the space and make note of anything that’s cracked, chipped, broken or installed incorrectly. Get this list to the person who’s in charge of fixing these mistakes and include information about how and when the work should be completed.

Step 6: Decorate and Enjoy

Now that your space is complete, personalize it with rugs, hampers, soap holders, art and more. Just remember that detergents and bleach can wreak havoc on materials. “You don’t want anything too precious in there,” Margulis says.

Just like a car, your home needs regular tune-ups too

by Bozeman Broker Group


Essential Spring Cleaning Time

March 6, 2016 By Brendan


Spring is the perfect time to clear out winter’s clutter and start fresh. But while you’re organizing closets and planting flowers, don’t forget to perform basic home maintenance. Just like a car, your home needs regular tune-ups to keep it secure, comfortable and beautiful for years to come.

With the arrival of warm weather and sunshine, however, I know that the last thing you want to do is spend every weekend on spring cleaning projects! Fortunately, our handy checklist makes it easy to tackle the big projects step-by-step. Set aside a few hours each weekend to tune up a different part of your house, and in less than a month your home will be ready for summer!

Roof and Gutters Checklist

Did you know that the majority of home water damage actually occurs in the spring? Winter’s freeze-and-thaw cycles can shorten the life of gutters and drain spouts. If drainage is blocked, water from spring rains can pool up along your home’s foundation or roofline, leading to serious structural damage.

  • Clean gutters and downspouts. After removing winter debris from your gutters, check for any blockages by tapping the side of the spout or by blowing air down your drain spout with a leaf blower. Air should flow easily and the drain spout will make a hollow sound. Drainage should be diverted at least three feet from your home’s foundation.
  • Check for missing or cracked shingles. While on your roof, visually check the condition of your shingles for curling, warping, cracking or cupping. If you notice any damage or missing shingles, you’ll want to hire a contractor to make repairs. Not sure if there’s a problem with your roof? Check your attic for leaks, moisture and mold.

Safety Tip: Remember, cleaning gutters and repairing roofs can be dangerous and results in hundreds of serious personal injuries every year. If you’re not comfortable on a ladder, or simply not as limber as you once were, ask a neighbor for assistance or hire a contractor.

 HVAC Checklist

Gear up for the summer’s heat waves with an air conditioner tune-up. Routine maintenance ensures optimal airflow, which lowers heating and cooling costs. Minor problems are easier to fix in the spring rather than waiting until scorching August temps strain your AC unit, leading to expensive repairs or a full replacement.

  • Remove debris and vegetation. Ensure winter storm debris does not cause any airflow blockages, which can strain the unit and spike energy bills.
  • Change air filters. At a minimum, you should change your air filter every three to six months. A dirty filter slows down airflow, causing your system to work overtime to keep your home cool, which increases energy costs.
  • Schedule a tune-up. Many reputable HVAC service centers offer seasonal savings on spring tune-ups. A professional will check your unit for potential problems and replace any aging parts, which helps prevent early system failure.

Energy Savings Tip: A one-degree change in your thermostat setting reduces energy consumption by 4 percent. Your body won’t notice the temperature difference, but your wallet definitely will!

 Home Exterior Checklist

An attractive exterior does a lot more than simply increase your home’s curb appeal. Paint seals wood, protecting it from the elements. Simple paint touch-ups can extend the average life of your siding by two to three years.

  • Check for peeling paint or siding. Take a walk around your house and look for any siding damage. It’s much more affordable to repaint your siding or trim now rather than wait until water entry has rotted the wood! If you own a brick home, the brickwork should be resealed every five to eight years.
  • Reseal your deck. Check for loose boards that may need replacement or resealing. If it’s been a few years since your deck’s last spring cleaning, consider power washing and resealing your deck.

Safety Tip: If you rent your own power washer (daily rentals start at $35 to $50), ask for a quick walk-through on its use. Always wear protective eye gear and operate with caution; with several hundred pounds of water pressure, you don’t want to accidently spray yourself, a family member or a pet!


Choosing Your First Home: What to Look for When House Hunting

by Bozeman Broker Group

First time home Buyer? Things to look for and to consider.

Photo: © Andresr - Veer

It's important to remember that the first house you buy isn't likely to be the one you'll live in forever. Instead, you might consider looking for a starter home when you are tired of renting and unable to afford your dream house. Approaching the house-hunting process with this caveat in mind will allow you to forgive some of the property's shortcomings and put you in a good position to profit when you resell the home. Here are a few tips to consider:

Investigate the Neighborhood
While it might seem like a good idea to take advantage of the potential profitability of an up-and-coming neighborhood, you likely won't be living in your starter home long enough to see a major shift. Instead, look for your first home in an already established, safe neighborhood because it'll probably keep its desirable status, and this can be an advantage for you when you want to sell your house in the future. Many first-time buyers are also in the process of starting a family, which is another good reason to ensure that the neighborhood will be a comfortable and secure place to live. It's also a good idea to figure out how likely it is that you will have school-age children while you are living in this house. Accessibility to good schools really drives up home prices.
Maximize Resale Value
While you are in the process of buying your starter home, you should also be thinking ahead to reselling it. Put yourself in the shoes of other prospective buyers and figure out whether a property would meet most of the average buyer's criteria. Homes with fewer than two bedrooms or bathrooms can be difficult to market, for example, because they often exclude larger families. Even if you don't need two bathrooms at the moment, it might still be a good idea to look for a home that has them. Similarly, while you may not care about an open concept living space, trends show that most buyers want a home that feels spacious. Invest now in a property that will impress others, and you will have less trouble selling it in a few years.
Look for Potential
Your starter home might not be 100 percent perfect when you move in, so it's a good idea to look for a house that could be improved by a few cosmetic tweaks. You may be able to get a better deal on a house that needs work, and it will be relatively easy to increase its resale value. So if you aren't crazy about the countertops, consider buying the home anyway and install granite yourself. In addition to being able to customize the house to your tastes, you'll also likely see a decent return on your investment when you list the property for sale.

New Year’s Resolutions to Help You Purchase a Home

by Bozeman Broker Group


Let Our Team at Bozeman Broker Group Help You with You Resolutions to Buy the Perfect Home

Is the goal of purchasing a new home at the top of your 2016 New Year’s resolutions?

~ Planning is key to make your dream a reality ~  

Lisa Kittleman

New Year’s Resolutions to Help You Purchase a Home

1. Decide what you want – Build on the excitement of the new year with this fun step. Take detailed notes about location, size, type of community, whether you plan to expand your family while in this home, commute time, design and amenities. It is a good idea to rank and prioritize your list in case you must make decisions quickly. (Ex: Are you willing to trade less bedrooms for a larger kitchen? Longer commute for better schools?)

2. Before stepping foot in a house, put your financial “house” in order – Now it is time to become realistic about what you will be able to afford. A Mortage calculator offers a new home calculator for a rough estimate. Determine your budget and stick to it. Know your credit scores and save for a down payment, closing and loan fees. Over and above saving for the purchase of your home, you should build a healthy savings account. Joseph Gyourko, professor of real estate at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania says to remember this good rule of thumb. “On average, you’ll spend 2.5 percent to 3 percent of your home’s value annually on upkeep, repairs and maintenance. If you’re buying a $250,000 home, aim to save $520 to $625 per month,” Gyourko says.

3. Get pre-approved  for financing BEFORE you start to house hunt – “Pre-approval” means you have a pre-approval letter from a loan officer that confirms you have borrowing power and readily qualify for various mortgage programs. It’s important to know your credit score. “If possible, stop applying for new credit a year before you start house hunting, and keep the moratorium in place until after you close on your home,” John Ulzheimer, CreditSesame credit expert says. After being approved, don’t get caught up into buying items for your future home that could put your credit status in jeopardy because your letter is not a final loan commitment.

4. Buy a home that you both like and can afford now – Shop for the long term, as short-term ownership can be expensive. Real estate markets and family dynamics vary, so you want to be content in your home even if your original plan for re-sale down the road would not immediately cooperate. 

5. Hire a GREAT Team – The Internet allows buyers to do extensive legwork, but there is no substitute for experienced professionals. A real estate agent will know the market, save you substantial time, money and emotional heartache by advocating for you and guiding you to make the right offer.

Realtors can offer recommendations for the other services you’ll need. Realtors have established relationships with mortgage lenders, home inspectors and know who to call to assist with other steps in the buying process.

6. Inspect the home before closing – Take the time to “sniff out” any issues. Do you notice odd odors from mold or pets? Does the toilet flush properly? Open appliances to see if they are in working order on the inside. It is important to remember the status of a home may change overnight, so re-check everything as close to closing as possible. You don’t want the unexpected housewarming present of moving in to find that something leaked and caused damage AFTER your final inspection.

7. Protect yourself with insurance – The time to obtain insurance coverage and home warranties is at closing, so be sure to discuss your options with a reputable Realtor or insurance broker PRIOR to closing. Ask about limitations, costs, deductibles and other factors.

Statistics show that the key to keeping New Year’s resolutions is diligence and taking the smart path.


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

by Bozeman Broker Group


Thank you to all our clients, colleagues, friends, and family for a great 2015.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a fantastic 2016!


Bozeman Area Cold Snap ~ Tips to Avoid Frozen Pipes

by Bozeman Broker Group



Tricks to Keep Your Pipes from Exploding this Winter

Winter is here is bozeman, learn how to prevent your pipes from freezing,even if you think they may already have started to freeze.

New homeowners may have heard that winterization is important, but in the hubbub of your first year living in a home you own (finally!), it can be easy to overlook the need to prepare for the cold weather ahead. After all, it’s just not something renters deal with; prepping pipes for winter is often the landlord’s job.

Ideally, you should winterize your pipes in the fall, before winter seriously sets in. But if you’ve forgotten and all of a sudden you’re in the middle of a deep freeze, there’s still time to prevent disaster.

Here are some easy techniques to save your pipes from bursting:

Turn On Your Faucets

If the temperatures have dropped into freezing and intend to stay there, turning on your faucets — can keep water moving through your system and slow down the freezing process. There’s no need to waste gallons of water: Aim for about five drips per minute.

Open Cabinet Doors

During cold weather, open any cabinet doors covering plumbing in the kitchen and bathroom. This allows the home’s warm air to better circulate, which can help prevent the exposed piping from freezing. While this won’t help much with pipes hidden in walls, ceilings, or under the home, it can keep water moving and limit the dangerous effects of freezing weather.

Wrap Your Pipes

If your pipes are already on their merry way towards freezing, wrapping them with warm towels might do the trick. You can cover them with the towels first and then pour boiling water on top, or use already-wet towels — if your hands can stand the heat (use gloves for this). This should help loosen the ice inside and get your system running again.

Pull Out Your Hairdryer

A hairdryer (or heat gun) can be a godsend when your pipes are freezing. If hot rags aren’t doing the trick, try blowing hot air directly on the pipes. Important note: You don’t want to use a blow torch or anything that produces direct flames, which can damage your pipes and turn a frozen pipe into an even worse disaster. You’re trying to melt the ice — not your pipes.

Frozen Pipes? Shut Off The Water

Have your pipes already frozen? Turn off the water immediately. (Hopefully you know where the master shut-off is, but if not, now’s the time to find it!) Make sure to close off any external water sources, like garden hose hookups. This will prevent more water from filling the system, adding more ice to the pile, and eventually bursting your pipes — the worst-case scenario. This also will help when the water thaws; the last thing you want after finally fixing your frozen pipes is for water to flood the system — and thus, your home.

By: Jamie Wiebe

600-Student Medical College in Bozeman?

by Bozeman Broker Group
Burrell Medical College Unfazed by Manipal Withdrawal

The Burrell Group of New Mexico is pushing ahead with its plan to create a 600-student medical college in Bozeman, despite a competing India-based company’s decision that Montana doesn’t have enough patients and teaching doctors to support a quality school.

“We’re moving forward with our proposed medical school,” Dr. Robert Hasty said in an interview Friday. Hasty, 42, has been hired as founding dean in charge of planning Burrell’s Montana College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“We’re excited,” Hasty said. “We’re going to make a huge difference for Montana and the surrounding areas. It’s going to be a game-changer.”

Manipal Education America announced this week in Missoula that it would end its year-long exploration of starting a private, for-profit osteopathic college in Montana.

The Missoulian reported that Neal Simon, Manipal Education America president, issued a statement saying the firm agreed with Missoula’s physician community “that the clinical education infrastructure will not support a high-quality medical school in the state.”

Hasty said Manipal “made the right decision for them” but that has no bearing on the Burrell college, currently completing a feasibility study.

Montana wouldn’t have had the capacity to support two medical schools, Hasty said. But Montana, together with Idaho and Wyoming, does have the capacity to train doctors in a regional medical school, he said.

Many Bozeman doctors remain skeptical of or upset by Burrell’s plan to build a private, for-profit school, possibly in a partnership with Montana State University.

Eleven physicians met with MSU President Waded Cruzado on Friday for 90 minutes to voice their concerns.

Cruzado wrote a public letter this week saying the Burrell college could potentially benefit Montana’s economy with millions of dollars in investment, hundreds of jobs, and new opportunities for students who can’t get into medical school.

She wrote that she has sought from the beginning to ensure it wouldn’t hurt the 43-year-old WWAMI program. That program trains students from states without medical schools — Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho – in cooperation with the University of Washington. Montana pays to train 30 students a year, who spend their first two years at MSU.

Despite Cruzado’s reassurances, some physicians fear the new school threatens WWAMI because its students would compete for a limited number of residency spots and some legislators may see a chance to save tax money by killing WWAMI.

Dr. Colette Kirchhoff said the doctors “tried to inform” Cruzado that “overwhelmingly, physicians across the state are not in favor of the for-profit model, which is about making money for investors, not providing high-quality medical education.”

Dr. Aaron Bruce, an osteopathic doctor, said Montana’s medical community, and now Manipal, “have come to realize there aren’t enough clerkships and graduate medical training opportunities for a school such as this to be viable.”

Hasty didn’t attend the MSU meeting, but responded to doctors’ concerns.

The Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine at New Mexico State University, which will open next fall with its first 150 students, has already created 108 new accredited residency positions in the New Mexico area, he said.

After students graduate from four-year medical schools, they must undergo years of training in residencies before they can practice. Montana today has only about 30 residencies, and critics say that’s not enough to support WWAMI plus Burrell’s proposed 150 students a year.

Hasty himself has experience with a startup medical school in North Carolina at Campbell University, a 128-year-old Christian school that started its osteopathic college in 2013. It has created 383 new residencies, he said.

In a state that already has established medical schools at Duke and the University of North Carolina, Hasty said, “The big guys said we couldn’t do this and we proved them wrong.”

“It’s incredibly hard work,” Hasty said. “It’s important work. I’m a faith-based guy. I live my life with a purpose.”

Starting a new medical college is daunting work and causes many sleepless nights, Hasty said. But he is so positive about the Burrell college, he is buying a house in Bozeman, set to close next month, and plans to move here with his wife and 5-year-old daughter.

“This is going to be the highest quality medical school,” he said. “We are going to train quality and caring physicians for the future.”

Resistance and negativity are normal and healthy and don’t worry him, Hasty said.

“Folks will fall in love with our medical school,” he said. “I’m super optimistic.”


9 Easy Mistakes Homeowners Make on Their Taxes

by Bozeman Broker Group

Home tax deductions and credits - Don’t rouse the IRS or pay more taxes than necessary


Image: Jenna Sue/


Watch out for the common tax-filing errors, and you'll get a maximum return without raising any red flags with the IRS.


As you calculate your tax returns, be careful not to commit any of these nine home-related tax mistakes, which tax pros say are especially common and can cost you money or draw the IRS to your doorstep.

#1: Deducting the wrong year for property taxes

You take a tax deduction for property taxes in the year you (or the holder of your escrow account) actually paid them. Some taxing authorities work a year behind — that is, you’re not billed for 2013 property taxes until 2014. But that’s irrelevant to the feds.

Enter on your federal forms whatever amount you actually paid in that tax year, no matter what the date is on your tax bill. Dave Hampton, CPA, a tax department manager at the Cincinnati accounting firm of Burke & Schindler, has seen homeowners confuse payments for different years and claim the incorrect amount.

#2: Confusing escrow amount for actual taxes paid

If your lender escrows funds to pay your property taxes, don’t just deduct the amount escrowed. The regular amount you pay into your escrow account each month to cover property taxes is probably a little more or a little less than your property tax bill. Your lender will adjust the amount every year or so to realign the two.

For example, your tax bill might be $1,200, but your lender may have collected $1,100 or $1,300 in escrow over the year. Deduct only $1,200 or the amount of property taxes noted on the Form 1098 that your lender sends. If you don’t receive Form 1098, contact the agency that collects property tax to find out how much you paid.

#3: Deducting points paid to refinance

Deduct points you paid your lender to secure your mortgage in full for the year you bought your home. However, when you refinance, you must deduct points over the life of your new loan.

For example, if you paid $2,000 in points to refinance into a 15-year mortgage, your tax deduction is $2,000 divided by 15 years, or $133 per year.

#4: Misjudging the home office tax deduction

The deduction is complicated, often doesn’t amount to much of a deduction, has to be recaptured if you turn a profit when you sell your home, and can pique the IRS’s interest in your return.

But there’s good news. There’s a new simplified home office deduction option if you don’t want to claim actual costs. If you’re eligible, you can deduct $5 per square foot up to 300 feet of office space, or up to $1,500 per year.

#5: Failing to repay the first-time homebuyer tax credit

If you used the original homebuyer tax credit in 2008, you must repay 1/15th of the credit over 15 years.

If you used the tax credit in 2009 or 2010 and then within 36 months you sold your house or stopped using it as your primary residence, you also have to pay back the credit.

The IRS has a tool you can use to help figure out what you owe.

#6: Failing to track home-related expenses

If the IRS comes a-knockin’, don’t be scrambling to compile your records. File or scan and store home office and home improvement expense receipts and other home-related documents as you go.

#7: Forgetting to keep track of capital gains

If you sold your main home last year, don’t forget to pay capital gains taxes on any profit. You can typically exclude $250,000 of any profits from taxes (or $500,000 if you’re married filing jointly).

So if your cost basis for your home is $100,000 (what you paid for it plus any improvements) and you sold it for $400,000, your capital gains are $300,000. If you’re single, you owe taxes on $50,000 of gains.

However, there are minimum time limits for holding property to take advantage of the exclusions, and other details. Consult IRS Publication 523. And high-income earners could get hit with an additional tax.

#8: Filing incorrectly for energy tax credits

If you made any eligible improvements in 2014, such as installing energy-efficient windows and doors, you may be able to take a 10% tax credit (up to $500; with some systems your cap is even lower than $500). But keep in mind, it’s a lifetime credit. If you claimed the credit in any recent years, you’re done.

Installing a solar electric, solar water heater, geothermal, or small wind energy system can also make you eligible to take the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit.

To claim the deduction, you have to use the complicated Form 5695, which can mean cross-checking with half a dozen other IRS forms. Read the instructions carefully.

#9: Claiming too much for the mortgage interest tax deduction

Taxpayers are allowed to deduct mortgage interest on home acquisition debt up to $1 million, plus they can also deduct up to $100,000 in home equity debt.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice.

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